Creativity is often described as the use of imagination or original ideas to create something useful. It does not need an artist to be creative. We see creative people everywhere in our lives, if we are conscious to observe them. I think so, because I believe my observation antenna were full up and high when I met Mohammed Taslim on the streets of Kolkata in a busy marketplace. He sells scarves for his living. What got me attracted was not only the colourful designs of his scarves at display, but the shop he had created for himself. Just made of 4 aluminium pipes, his shop could hold, i guess, more than hundred scarves and was so light to carry on his shoulders that he could take and set it up anywhere. Almost an extended version of a clothes hanger we have in our wardrobes. Could we have ever imagined that a clothes hanger could also be used a shop? How creative and how simple! It makes me wonder how simple sometimes life is.
In most developing countries, street vendors are a common site. For so many years, I have seen them as part of my city fabric everyday. But Mohammed Taslim gave me a new sight. He made me curious about how simply and creatively these street vendors with their small mobile shops make their living. And I started actively looking at my street again to see how small a shop can be?
On my radar, I caught another ingenious example on the way from Kolkata to Durgapur by bus a few months ago when I saw a man selling chaat, a spicy Indian snack outside a tea shop. Made of few iron plates and a drum, this little stall could be carried on a shoulder. While carrying it on a shoulder, it had perfect curvature designed to fit the body’s space. Do designers call it ergonomics? I wonder how these street vendors learnt about it. It would have taken so many trial and errors before someone came up with this design. The stall not only topped my list with its creative design, but also the creative opportunity it gives to the vendors to decorate their stall with their colourful ingredients for display in order to attract customers.
When we think of mobile shops, we think of shops that have wheels or can be carried on one’s shoulder. But how about making your suitcase your shop? I wonder if a shop can get smaller than this?
And while I ask myself this question, a hat vendor just passed by me. Someone who does not need a shop at all. His body is his shop. Simple, creative, attractive and very mobile.
I cannot stop looking at this picture and appreciate the spirit of this man who stands all day on a busy street holding all the hats on himself and attracting customers with his creative display. He is an example that when a man wants to achieve something in life, he does not need more means than his willingness and hard working spirit.
All these vendors show that creativity can make tremendous difference in one’s life. They gave me a new insight to look at the world around me, for which I am thankful to them. If they have inspired you too, please share this post with your friends and spread their creative spirit !